THE Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) is set to initiate criminal proceedings against any digital money lender whose conduct is in violation of extant laws.
Babatunde Irukera, the Executive Vice Chairman of the FCCPC, said this in a document signed on behalf of the Joint Regulatory Task Force (JRTF) addressing ‘loan sharks’ in Abuja.
Irukera said the Commission would also hold employees, collaborators or agents of money lenders accountable in line with extant laws in the event of any conduct violation.
He also disclosed that some money lenders under investigation and whose accounts were frozen had approached the Commission and expressed the desire to cooperate with the FCCPC.
Last week, FCCPC announced it had frozen no fewer than 30 bank accounts operated by illegal loan companies in four banks.
”As a condition to acceptance into the cooperation framework, some of the moneylenders have been required to desist from contacting, including by text messages, people on contact lists/third parties of borrowers or defaulters.
”They are also required to discontinue further abusive, coercive and inappropriate language in communication with loan defaulters or borrowers.
”To also provide a mechanism for transparency regarding loan repayment fees, default or late payment charges as well as interest calculation to the Commission.
”The mechanism must include open, accessible and responsive feedback and dispute resolution framework that complies with fair lending and loan recovery principles.
”The Commission reserves the prerogative to proceed in any manner consistent with prevailing law including but not limited to criminal prosecution of any digital money lender, its employees, collaborators or agents, whose conduct is in violation of extant law,” he said.
Irukera commended consumers for diligent cooperation in providing vital and meaningful information that had so far assisted the Commission’s investigations.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.